Remembering Kobe Bryant: Beyonce and Jimmy Kimmel open tributes to Lakers legend

Skateboarding and boxing legends Tony Hawk and Marvelous Marvin Hagler talk to CNN about their thoughts on Kobe Bryant's legacy and life and his daughter Gigi.

Posted: Feb 24, 2020 3:02 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2020 3:02 PM


Fans packing the sold-out Staples Center to honor the legacy of Kobe Bryant were welcomed to the arena Monday by no less than one of the biggest pop stars on Earth.

Follow live updates from the memorial

Performing with a band and choir clad in all white, Beyonce invited the audience to sing along with her as she belted out her song, "XO," which includes the lyrics, "In the darkest night hour, I'll search through the crowd/Your face is all that I see; I'll give you everything."

"I'm here because I love Kobe," Beyonce told the crowd, "and that was one of his favorite songs."

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel took the stage and pointed out how the tributes arrived from around the world -- even from Boston, home to the rival Celtics.

"In places where he would be booed on the court, Kobe is missed," he said before introducing Vanessa Bryant.

Bryant's widow first offered a remembrance of her daughter, Gianna, 13, who was one of the eight people on the helicopter with her 41-year-old father when it crashed in Calabasas last month. She recalled how Gianna and Bryant gravitated to each other and shared a "secret talent" of learning the lyrics to songs after hearing them only a few times.

"She was an incredible athlete. She was great at gymnastics, soccer, softball, dance and basketball," the girl's mother said. "Gigi was confident but not in an arrogant way. She loved helping and teaching other people things. At school, she offered the boys' basketball coaches to help give the boys' basketball team some pointers -- like the triangle offense."

Luisa Almeida didn't wear eyeliner to the Staples Center, she told CNN, because she knew it would get ruined once the Bryant memorial got underway in Los Angeles.

Wearing an RIP Kobe scarf and a Lakers jersey she bought in 2001, when she first became a fan, Almeida said she never made it to Los Angeles while Bryant was alive, but she made the trip from Dallas to bid him farewell.

"It's like a dream come true to be in Los Angeles," she said. "Unfortunately, (I'm) here to pay my tributes and my respects to one of my greatest, greatest, greatest role models, Kobe."

Almeida was one of thousands of fans gathering outside the Staples Center hours before fans packed the 20,000-seat arena, which hosted the Celtics on Sunday.

On Monday morning, South Figueroa Street outside the stadium looked much as it had the night before, with almost every fan wearing a Bryant jersey or some purple-and-gold memorabilia, along with plenty of vendors hawking items for those who did not.

Some fans even decked out their exotic cars -- specifically, a Lamborghini and a BMW I-series -- in Bryant and Lakers imagery.

Shortly after 8 a.m. (11 a.m. ET), fans with tickets to the memorial began filing into the Staples Center where, organizers say, about 35,000 roses will adorn the main stage from which Bryant and daughter Gianna will be memorialized.

Upon entering the arena, fans received a T-shirt featuring the father and daughter on its front, a KB pin and a "celebration of life" program, the back of which featured a Bryant quote dedicated "to our daughters."

"It's not the destination, it's the journey," the quote said. "If you guys can understand that, what you'll see happen is that you won't accomplish your dreams, your dreams won't come true, something greater will. And if you guys can understand that, then I'm doing my job as a father."

Anthony Mercado, 34, and his brother, Edward Mercado, were among the fortunate few to snare tickets. They got up at 5 a.m. and drove from Riverside, about 60 miles east, to pay their respects.

Edward Mercado, 31, was decked in head-to-toe Lakers garb. Even his hair -- purple and yellow, with a green snake on his crown -- was a tribute to hero.

Like Almeida, he didn't believe he'd be able to keep his composure once the commemorations start, he said.

"It's unreal right now, but once I get in there, I know the emotion and tears will come out. ... Right now, I'm just holding it in. It's a blessing to be here. It's part of history going down right now, and I'll talk to my sons about this moment."

The two-and-a-half hour event is slated to finish around 1 p.m. The arena is scheduled to host a Los Angeles Clippers game at 7:30 p.m.

"It's going to be a very emotional celebration of life for Kobe, Gianna and the seven others who lost their lives," Staples Center president Lee Zeidman said. "I think, having done Michael Jackson and having done Nipsey Hussle, this will be one of the most emotional because of what Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, those others meant to Los Angeles, Southern California, but to the world as well."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Columbus
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 63°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather